Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's UP with these Californians?

Well, it's been over a year since anyone has yelled at me for something regarding my children. I just commented to my husband last week how maybe I'm starting to get the hang of how differently you have to parent your kids when you live, here as opposed to anywhere say, with more common sense. There are some great people that live here. Then there are the illogical, off-their-rocker types that just don't understand people. Or how to live by them. Or in a neighborhood. Or in a state where people have kids. Even if they once had small kids. I know we've all heard crazy neighbor stories, so now I have mine!

Last Friday my kids (and our neighbor girl who lives across the street) were playing in our driveway. Like they do quite often. We have just a small bit of grass in our front yard (and half of that is on a steep hill), so mostly they play in the driveway with chalk, scooters, balls, small bikes, etc. It's great. It's a place to play. Our backyard (because we live in California where if you want a backyard bigger than 10 square feet, you're house costs a million dollars), is not a place our kids can play. There is a deck and a very small patch of grass. It's an appropriate play area for maybe a 10-month-old.

So I was sitting on the grass in my front yard watching them have fun. I usually don't sit down. I'm usually too busy filling requests of "mommy, I need help with this, or mommy fix my bike, or mommy, play this with me, etc." But this was probably the first time in 5 days of them playing outside (for about 2-3 hours a day) that I had even sat down. Literally. Sophie was eating a bag of snacks and Hailey noticed our big yellow sign we keep at the end of the driveway (in the gutter area by the sidewalk) had turned sideways so cars coming couldn't read it anymore. She went over there and said to me, "I'll fix the sign." So I said, great. So she's turning our yellow sign (it says "SLOW. Children at Play" in big, red letters). There are 4 other families just on our street that regularly post a sign like this in the gutter in front of their houses too, because there are a lot of fast cars that come down our hill. The speed limit on our street is 20 and cars are always zooming 35 or more down the street. So right at this moment (when I'm sitting on the grass, Sophie is standing on our sidewalk eating a snack out of a bag, and Hailey is turning the sign to face forward--keep in mind the sign is just at the end of our driveway--touching the sidewalk) a SUV comes zooming down the hill, the lady slams on her breaks and honks her horn (even though she was nowhere near the girls.) Then she screams out her window. "You need to get off your lazy butt and be there with them!!" Excuse me? What? I yelled back, "I'm right here! I'm watching them!" THEY WEREN'T IN THE ROAD!!! Or even acting like they were going to dart out and run in the road. Then she yells back, "You should make them play in the backyard!" Then she starts driving off and I yell, "I don't have a backyard!!"

Has anyone ever been yelled at before for letting their kids play in the frontyard? We live in a residential street on a small road. The nearest stoplight is more than a half mile away, so even the streets connecting to our road aren't big 4 lane roads either.
She might have a point if the girls were in the road, about to cross the road, looking like they were chasing a ball into the road, or even moving quickly. But they were literally standing there on the sidewalk when she came. Maybe she almost killed a child before in her life, so she's extra paranoid. I really don't know what would possess someone to yell at me like that.

I only wish the story ended there. So my neighbor across the street (who's girl was in our yard playing at the time of all this), comes and asks me what she said to me. So I told her. She gets really upset. She said her blood was just boiling and she couldn't believe that lady would yell at me like that. She said of course our kids can play in our front yards and how ridiculous the lady was being, etc. So then we see the lady coming back. She had turned around in her car. I guess to come yell at me some more or something. But she never got a chance to yell at me some more. (Even though she tried to--she kept trying to ignore my neighbor and say things like this is between me and her (as she's pointing to me), not you! So my neighbor across the street runs up to her car and starts yelling at her! They're going back and forth for a few minutes swearing up a storm. Then I take all the kids inside. My neighbor (who was on my side) screams at her husband (who was also outside for the whole thing) to call the police for harrasment! She's yelling at all the kids to go inside and she's going to call 9-1-1. Well, at this point, the lady starts speeding off and my neighbors yells, "That's right! You run away! But I'VE GOT YOUR LICENSE PLATE!" So the lady does a crazy U-turn in the middle of our street, and another car had come up, so she almost ran into him, (he had to drive around her once she kind of got out of his way), so then she comes back, but then just drives past us and leaves. So my neighbor did call 9-1-1 and reported the crazy lady and the police went and found her house (she's up the hill from us), and told her she needs to calm down and stop almost causing accidents. But then they came and talked to my neighbor and said it's best not to confront people like that because they're never going to back down. I'm like, "oh great, now we have this big neighborhood dispute all because of me." Not like I did anything WRONG! But there are all these crazy people in California, so apparently I do wrong things all the time! Like letting my kids play in my own driveway!!! GASP! Choke! Heaven forbid!!

So it's funny, since this happened I've had a few other neighbors on the street, who I hardly talk to say they've known that lady for years (including the HOA Pres) and she's caused some issues before. People have learned to steer clear of her. Great. And I've upset her. The HOA Pres. man said he thinks she's not entirely there, mentally. Neat.

I've also had people come to me and say they always let their kids play out front when they were little on this street and they think I'm totally fine to let my kids play in the front. That's why we live in a neighborhood. So that's helped me to feel a little better. Well, I need to go help my girls now. Just another reason I know I don't want to live here forever. Regardless of the super fun Memorial Day weekend we had at the beach on Saturday (including watching a surfing competition!) and Seaworld on Monday.

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